Fast and festive ice cream torte – Vail, CO
Vail CO, Colorado
Vail CO, Colorado
Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.
‘Tis the season to serve special meals for family and friends. But, who has time to labor over them? There is too much going on to spend hours in the kitchen. It’s more realistic to find recipes that come together fast yet still seem festive.
This ice cream torte does just that. It features chocolate and peppermint, tastes that are strongly associated the holidays. It’s pretty to look at, can be made two days before serving, and comes together with ease. All you actually make from scratch is a pan of brownies, the rest is merely assembled. And, if you want to forego that step, you can purchase the brownies or use a commercial mix and the dessert will still be a crowd pleaser.
You’ll have to choose the flavor of ice cream you prefer for the filling. Peppermint ice cream produces a very minty dessert; vanilla results in a balance between the tastes of chocolate and peppermint and, for a heavier chocolate taste, with the peppermint as an accent, select chocolate chip.
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Adjusted for altitude
Make in an 8-inch springform pan
Make in an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups of granulated sugar
3 (three) large eggs, beaten
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
Pinch of salt
2 pints of vanilla, peppermint or chocolate chip ice cream
2 ounces of candy canes (about 4 to 5 six inch canes)
5 to 6 ounces of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
Commercial chocolate sauce, optional
Make the brownies: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Line the 8-inch-by-8-inch baking pan with Reynold’s Release foil or regular foil, with two opposing ends extending past the pan to serve as handles when removing the brownies. If using regular foil, grease it well.
Melt the chopped chocolate and butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat or in the microwave at a low setting, stirring until smooth and combined. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Gradually stir in the sugar, then the eggs and vanilla. Stir gently and only until combined. Fold in the flour and pinch of salt only until no more flour is visible. Pour this thick batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan comes out with moist crumbs on it (33 to 37 minutes in my oven). Remove to a rack to cool completely.
Grease the springform pan. Remove the cooled brownies from their pan and break them into pieces about half-an-inch in size. Cover the bottom of the springform pan completely with these pieces, fitting them together and pressing them gently until they form a dense, thick layer. You will probably have some brownies left over; I usually do. Place the pan, covered, in the freezer while you prepare the ice cream.
Soften the two pints of ice cream, spoon them into a mixing bowl and beat them, with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, until very creamy. Work fast so the ice cream doesn’t get runny. Spoon this over the brownie crust in the springform pan, level and smooth it. Rap the pan on a counter several times to get rid of any air bubbles. Cover the pan and freeze the torte for several hours or up to two days.
Place the candy canes in a plastic bag and close the top of the bag. Using a rolling pin, meat mallet or some other heavy object, crush the candy canes into very small pieces. Grate the chocolate, on the large holes of a box grater, onto a piece of waxed paper or chop it fine with a knife. Up to several hours before serving the torte, remove it from the freezer and let it sit for about five minutes. Run a knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the torte and carefully release and remove the pan’s sides.
Sprinkle half of the grated chocolate around the edge of the top and fill the center with the crushed candy canes. Pick up handfuls of the rest of the grated chocolate, place it in the open palm of your hand and gently press it into the sides of the torte until it adheres to the ice cream and covers the sides uniformly. Serve immediately or return the torte to the freezer until you’re ready to serve it. If you put it back in the freezer, cover it with a bowl that is larger than the torte or with a tent of aluminum foil that doesn’t disturb the decorated top and sides. Soften slightly before cutting with a thin, sharp knife dipped in hot water and dried between cuts. Serve alone or with a drizzle of warm commercial chocolate sauce.
Vera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact Dawson with your comments about this column and/or your baking questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.